New Paltz Hawks Fall Hard in Hat City Tournament

By Monica D’Ippolito

Danbury, CT – The State University of New York at New Paltz men’s basketball team suffered an 82-68 loss in the championship game of the Hat City Tournament Thursday against William Paterson.

The Hawks (5-4 overall), coming off their most efficient offensive game of the season in a win over tournament host Western Connecticut State, struggled to find the bottom of the hoop against the Pioneers. They made just 26 baskets and shot 36.1 percent from the field, including 4-of-28 from behind the arc — their lowest total of the season.

“We got out-played in every facet of the game and did not deserve to win,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Keith Kenney. “We didn’t defend their dribble and keep them in front of us. We wanted to take away their 3 or shooting, but instead gave up forces. Offensively, we didn’t play our style and didn’t pass the ball to each other, and I didn’t like our shot selection.”

William Paterson was propelled by an early 9-0 run in the first half and a 10-0 run to start the second half to run away with the eventual 14-point victory. The Pioneers pushed the tempo and hit 54.2 percent from the field in the win and improved to 7-4 on the season.

The Hawks opened up with a quick 5-0 lead and held William Paterson scoreless until two made free throws made by Jadon Cepeda got the Pioneers on the board. Pushing the tempo, they proceeded on a 9-0 run to take the lead, which they kept the remainder of the half. Lucas Seyoum broke up the scoreless stretch, getting fouled just inside the arc to get to the free throw line where he made both to cut score, 9-7. William Paterson answered with a 14-2 run in the following three minutes leading to SUNY New Paltz’s first timeout with about 14:30 to play in the half.

Out of the break, the Pioneers extended the run to 16-2 with less than 14 minutes left, but Solomon Neuhaus answered with a made mid-ranged jumper. Rylan Blondo followed with a strong put-back to get the deficit within two, but the Hawks went cold once again going two-plus minutes before Tyreik Frazier got his put-back to go on a missed 3 to put SUNY New Paltz within six with seven minutes to play. Blondo then scored four-straight points to make the score a one-possession game with the Hawks trimming the deficit to one twice down the stretch before a made 3-pointer by RJ Myers-Turner tied the game at 33-all with about 2:30 left in the half. William Paterson answered last to close out the half, as Cepada hit from behind the arc as time expired to give his team a 42-35 lead at the break.

SUNY New Paltz went scoreless until about 16 minutes left in the second half with Dakoda Smith breaking up the Pioneers run with a dunk to cut the score to 52-37. Seyoum got his team within 15 after a tough finish at the hoop, driving baseline with about 15 minutes to go, but the Hawks continued to struggle offensively as they made just three baskets within the first 11 minutes, making 3-of-16 attempts including 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

They got as close as 12 after a technical foul put Neuhaus on the line for two to trim the deficit to 67-55 with about 6:30 left. However, SUNY New Paltz couldn’t limit the Pioneers on the defensive end and five turnovers on the other side of the floor hindered any comeback.

“This was not our day,” Kenney added. “We have a ways to go to be a consistent team, but I am excited for conference play as that matters most.”

Blondo led the team with 18 points on 8-for-16 from the field with 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal. Frazier followed with 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Seyoum added nine points and three rebounds, while Sean St. Lucia finished with seven points, eight rebounds, one assist and one steal on the day.

Next up for the Hawks is a SUNYAC road weekend against SUNY Geneseo and The College at Brockport on Jan. 7 and 8, respectively,

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